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Understanding anesthesia a learners handbook


A Learner's Handbook
Karen Raymer, MD, MSc, FRCP(C)
McMaster University
Karen Raymer, MD, MSc, FRCP(C)
Richard Kolesar, MD, FRCP(C)
Eric E. Brown, HBSc
Karen Raymer, MD, FRCP(C)

Understanding Anesthesia
A Learner’s Handbook
Dr. Karen Raymer, MD, MSc, FRCP(C)

Clinical Professor, Department of Anesthesia, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University

Dr. Karen Raymer, MD, MSc, FRCP(C)
Dr. Richard Kolesar, MD, FRCP(C)
Associate Clinical Professor, Department of Anesthesia, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University

Eric E. Brown, HBSc
MD Candidate (2013), McMaster University
Karen Raymer, MD, FRCP(C)
ISBN 978-0-9918932-1-8



grams such as Emergency Medicine or Internal Medicine, who require anesthesia experience as part of their training, will also find
the guide helpful.

Getting the most from your book
This handbook arose after the creation of an ibook, entitled, “Understanding Anesthesia: A Learner’s Guide”. The ibook is freely
available for download and is viewable on the ipad. The ibook version has many interactive elements that are not available in a paper
book. Some of these elements appear as spaceholders in this (paper) handbook.

The book is written at an introductory level with the aim of helping learners become oriented and functional in what might be a
brief but intensive clinical experience. Those students requiring
more comprehensive or detailed information should consult the
standard anesthesia texts.

If you do not have the ibook version of “Understanding Anesthesia”, please note that many of the interactive elements, including
videos, slideshows and review questions, are freely available for
viewing at

The author hopes that “Understanding Anesthesia: A Learner’s
Handbook” succeeds not only in conveying facts but also in making our specialty approachable and appealing. I sincerely invite

feedback on our efforts:


The interactive glossary is available only within the ibooks version.
While the contributors to this guide have made every effort to provide accurate and current drug information, readers are advised to
verify the recommended dose, route and frequency of administration, and duration of action of drugs prior to administration. The
details provided are of a pharmacologic nature only. They are not
intended to guide the clinical aspects of how or when those drugs
should be used. The treating physician, relying on knowledge and
experience, determines the appropriate use and dose of a drug after careful consideration of their patient and patient’s circumstances. The creators and publisher of the guide assume no responsibility for personal injury.

Many medical students’ first exposure to anesthesia happens in the
hectic, often intimidating environment of the operating room. It is
a challenging place to teach and learn.
“Understanding Anesthesia: A Learner’s Handbook” was created
in an effort to enhance the learning experience in the clinical setting. The book introduces the reader to the fundamental concepts
of anesthesia, including principles of practice both inside and outside of the operating room, at a level appropriate for the medical
student or first-year (Anesthesia) resident. Residents in other pro-


The image on the Chapter 6 title page is by Wikimedia Commons
user ignis and available under the Creative Commons AttributionShare Alike 3.0 Unported licence. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.

Copyright for “Understanding Anesthesia: A Learner’s Guide”
“Understanding Anesthesia: A Learner’s Guide” is registered with
the Canadian Intellectual Property Office.

Many individuals supported the production of this book, including the elements that you can only access at the book’s website

© 2012 Karen Raymer. All rights reserved.
Media Attributions
Media found in this textbook have been compiled from various
sources. Where not otherwise indicated, photographs and video
were taken and produced by the author, with the permission of the
subjects involved.

Numerous publishers allowed the use of figures, as attributed in
the text. The Wood Library-Museum of Anesthesiology provided
the historic prints in Chapter 6.

In the case where photos or other media were the work of others,
the individuals involved in the creation of this textbook have made
their best effort to obtain permission where necessary and attribute
the authors. This is usually done in the image caption, with exceptions including the main images of chapter title pages, which have
been attributed in this section. Please inform the author of any errors so that corrections can be made in any future versions of this

Representatives from General Electric and the LMA Group of Companies were helpful in supplying the images used in the derivative
figures seen in Interactive 2.1 and Figure 5 respectively.
Linda Onorato created and allowed the use of the outstanding
original art seen in Figures 3 and 6, with digital mastery by Robert
Richard Kolesar provided the raw footage for the laryngoscopy
video. Appreciation is extended to Emma Kolesar who modified
Figure 9 for clarity.

The image on the Preface title page is in the public domain and is a
product of the daguerrotype by Southworth & Hawes. Retrieved
from Wikimedia Commons.

Rob Whyte allowed the use of his animated slides illustrating the
concepts of fluid compartments. The image of the “tank” of water
was first developed by Dr. Kinsey Smith, who kindly allowed the
use of that property for this book.

The image on the Chapter 1 title page is by Wikimedia user MrArifnajafov and available under the Creative Commons AttributionShare Alike 3.0 Unported licence. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.

Joan and Nicholas Scott (wife and son of D. Bruce Scott) generously allowed the use of material from “Introduction to Regional
Anaesthesia” by D. Bruce Scott (1989).

The image on the Chapter 5 title page is by Ernest F and available
under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported licence. Retrieved from Wikimedia Commons.

Brian Colborne provided technical support with production of the
intubation video and editing of figures 5, 10, 11, 15 and 16.

Since then, the specialty of anesthesiology and the role of the anesthesiologist has grown at a rapid pace, particularly in the last several decades. In the operating room the anesthesiologist is responsible for the well-being of the patient undergoing any one of the hundreds of complex, invasive, surgical procedures being performed
today. At the same time, the anesthesiologist must ensure optimal
operating conditions for the surgeon. The development of new anesthetic agents (both inhaled and intravenous), regional techniques, sophisticated anesthetic machines, monitoring equipment
and airway devices has made it possible to tailor the anesthetic
technique to the individual patient.

Appreciation is extended to Sarah O’Byrne (McMaster University)
who provided assistance with aspects of intellectual property and
Many others in the Department of Anesthesia at McMaster University supported the project in small but key ways; gratitude is extended to Joanna Rieber, Alena Skrinskas, James Paul, Nayer
Youssef and Eugenia Poon.
Richard Kolesar first suggested using the ibookauthor app to update our existing textbook for medical students and along with his
daughter, Emma, made an early attempt at importing the digital
text material into the template that spurred the whole project

Outside of the operating room, the anesthesiologist has a leading
role in the management of acute pain in both surgical and obstetrical patients. As well, the anesthesiologist plays an important role
in such diverse, multidisciplinary fields as chronic pain management, critical care and trauma resuscitation.

This project would not have been possible without the efforts of
Eric E. Brown, who was instrumental throughout the duration of
the project, contributing to both the arduous work of formatting as
well as creative visioning and problem-solving.

Karen Raymer
The Role of the Anesthesiologist
Dr. Crawford Long administered the first anesthetic using an
ether-saturated towel applied to his patient’s face on March 30,
1842, in the American state of Georgia. The surgical patient went
on to have two small tumours successfully removed from his neck.
Dr. Long received the world’s first anesthetic fee: $0.25.



The ABC’s

In this chapter, you will learn about airway (anatomy, assessment and management) in order to
understand the importance of the airway in the practice of anesthesiology. As well, you will develop
an understanding of the fluid compartments of the body from which an approach to fluid
management is developed. Look for review quiz questions at www.understandinganesthesia.ca


Airway Management
In This Section

• Airway Anatomy
• Airway Assessment
• Airway Management
• Airway Devices and
• The Difficult Airway

In order to ensure adequate oxygenation and ventilation throughout the insults of anesthesia and
surgery, the anesthesiologist must take active
measures to maintain the patency of the airway
as well as ensuring its protection from aspiration.
A brief discussion of airway anatomy, assessment
and management is given below.

Airway Anatomy
The upper airway refers to the nasal passages,
oral cavity (teeth, tongue), pharynx (tonsils,
uvula, epiglottis) and larynx. Although the larynx is the narrowest structure in the adult airway
and a common site of obstruction, the upper airway can also become obstructed by the tongue,
tonsils and epiglottis.
The lower airway begins below the level of the
larynx. The lower airway is supported by numerous cartilaginous structures. The most prominent
of these is the thyroid cartilage (Adam’s apple)
which acts as a shield for the delicate laryngeal
structures behind it. Below the larynx, at the
level of the sixth cervical vertebra (C6), the cricoid cartilage forms the only complete circumferential ring in the airway. Below the cricoid, many

horseshoe-shaped cartilaginous rings help maintain the rigid, pipe-like structure of the trachea.
The trachea bifurcates at the level of the fourth
thoracic vertebra (T4) where the right mainstem
bronchus takes off at a much less acute angle
than the left.
The airway is innervated by both sensory and
motor fibres (Table 1,Figure 1, Figure 2). The purpose of the sensory fibres is to allow detection of
foreign matter in the airway and to trigger the numerous protective responses designed to prevent
aspiration. The swallowing mechanism is an example of such a response whereby the larynx
moves up and under the epiglottis to ensure that
the bolus of food does not enter the laryngeal inlet. The cough reflex is an attempt to clear the upper or lower airway of foreign matter and is also
triggered by sensory input.

There are many different laryngeal muscles. Some adduct, while
others abduct the cords. Some tense, while others relax the cords.
With the exception of one, they are all supplied by the recurrent laryngeal nerve. The cricothyroid muscle, an adductor muscle, is supplied by the external branch of the superior laryngeal nerve.

Figure 1 Nerve
supply to the airway
This figure was
published in Atlas of Regional
Anesthesia, 3rd
edition, David
Brown, Copyright Elsevier
(2006) and used
with permission

Table 1 Sensory innervation of the airway


lingual nerve

anterior 2/3 of tongue

glossopharyngeal nerve

superior laryngeal nerve
(internal branch)

recurrent laryngeal nerve

Figure 2 Sensory innervation
of the tongue

posterior 1/3 of tongue

From the 4th edition (2010) of
"Principles of Airway Management". The
authors are B.T.
Finucane, B.C.H.
Tsui and A. Santora. Used by permission of Springer, Inc.

epiglottis and larynx

trachea, lower airways


Airway Assessment

Figure 3 Axis alignment using the “sniffing position”

The anesthesiologist must always perform a thorough preoperative airway assessment, regardless of the planned anesthetic
technique. The purpose of the assessment is to identify potential
difficulties with airway management and to determine the most appropriate approach. The airway is assessed by history, physical examination and occasionally, laboratory exams.
On history, one attempts to determine the presence of pathology
that may affect the airway. Examples include arthritis, infection, tumors, trauma, morbid obesity, burns, congenital anomalies and previous head and neck surgery. As well, the anesthesiologist asks
about symptoms suggestive of an airway disorder: dyspnea,
hoarseness, stridor, sleep apnea. Finally, it is important to elicit a
history of previous difficult intubation by reviewing previous anesthetic history and records.
The physical exam is focused towards the identification of anatomical features which may predict airway management difficulties. It
is crucial to assess the ease of intubation. Traditional teaching maintains that exposure of the vocal cords and glottic opening by direct
laryngoscopy requires the alignment of the oral, pharyngeal and
laryngeal axes (Figure 3). The “sniffing position” optimizes the
alignment of these axes and optimizes the anesthesiologist’s
chance of achieving a laryngeal view.
An easy intubation can be anticipated if the patient is able to open
his mouth widely, flex the lower cervical spine, extend the head at
the atlanto-occipital joint and if the patient has enough anatomical
space to allow a clear view. Each of these components should be assessed in every patient undergoing anesthesia:

Original artwork by Linda Onorato. Digital mastery by Robert Barborini. Used with permission of Linda Onorato.


• Mouth opening: Three fingerbreadths is considered
adequate mouth opening. At this point in the exam,
the anesthesiologist also observes the teeth for overbite, poor condition and the presence of dental prosthetics.

mally. Class 1 corresponds well with an easy intubation. Class 4 corresponds well with a difficult intubation. Classes 2 and 3 less reliably predict ease of intubation. The thyromental distance is also an important
indicator. The distance from the lower border of the
mandible to the thyroid notch with the neck fully extended should be at least three to four fingerbreadths. A shorter distance may indicate that the
oral-pharyngeal-laryngeal axis will be too acute to

• Neck motion: The patient touches his chin to his
chest and then looks up as far as possible. Normal
range of motion is between 90 and 165 degrees.
• Adequate space: Ability to visualize the glottis is related to the size of the tongue relative to the size of
the oral cavity as a large tongue can overshadow the
larynx. The Mallampati classification (Table 2, Figure
4) assigns a score based on the structures visualized
when the patient is sitting upright, with the head in a
neutral position and the tongue protruding maxi-

Figure 4 Mallampati classification

Table 2 Mallampati Classification
Class 1
Class 2

Soft palate, uvula, tonsillar
pillars can be seen.
As above except tonsillar
pillars not seen.

Class 3 Only base of uvula is seen.
Class 4

Image licensed under the Creative Commons
Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license and created by Wikimedia user

Only tongue and hard palate
can be seen.


achieve good visualization of the larynx. As well, a
short thyromental distance may indicate inadequate
“space” into which to displace the tongue during laryngoscopy.

Airway Management
Airway patency and protection must be maintained at
all times during anesthesia. This may be accomplished
without any special maneuvers such as during regional
anesthesia or conscious sedation. If the patient is
deeply sedated, simple maneuvers may be required:
jaw thrust, chin lift, oral airway (poorly tolerated if gag
reflex is intact) or nasal airway (well tolerated but can
cause epistaxis).

Combining Mallampati classification with thyromental
distance and other risk factors (morbid obesity, short,
thick neck, protuberant teeth, retrognathic chin), will
increase the likelihood of identifying a difficult airway.
No assessment can completely rule out the possibility
and so the clinician must always be prepared to manage a difficult airway.

During general anesthesia (GA), more formal airway
management is required. The three common airway
techniques are:

Laboratory investigations of the airway are rarely indicated. In some specific settings, cervical spine x-rays,
chest ray, flow-volume loops, computed tomography
or magnetic resonance imaging may be required.

• mask airway (airway supported manually or with
oral airway)
• laryngeal mask airway (LMA)
• endotracheal intubation (nasal or oral)
The choice of airway technique depends on many factors:
• airway assessment
• risk of regurgitation and aspiration
• need for positive pressure ventilation
• surgical factors (location, duration, patient position,
degree of muscle relaxation required)


A patient who is deemed to be at risk of aspiration requires that the airway be “protected” with a cuffed endotracheal tube regardless of the nature of the surgery.
If the surgery requires a paralyzed patient, then in most
cases the patient is intubated to allow mechanical ventilation.

ously) but it is only advisable for relatively short procedures as it “ties up” the anesthesiologist’s hands. It
does not protect against aspiration or laryngospasm
(closure of the cords in response to noxious stimuli at
light planes of anesthesia). Upper airway obstruction
may occur, particularly in obese patients or patients
with very large tongues. In current practice, the use of
a mask as a sole airway technique for anesthesia is
rarely-seen although it may be used for very brief procedures in the pediatric patient.

Mask Airway: Bag mask ventilation may be used to assist or control ventilation during the initial stages of a
resuscitation or to pre-oxygenate a patient as a prelude
to anesthetic induction and intubation. A mask airway
may be used as the sole airway technique during inhalational anesthesia (with the patient breathing spontane-

Laryngeal Mask Airway (LMA): The LMA is an airway
device that is a hybrid of the mask and the endotracheal tube. It is inserted blindly into the hypopharynx.
When properly positioned with its cuff inflated, it sits
above the larynx and seals the glottic opening (Figure
5). It is usually used for spontaneously breathing patients but positive pressure ventilation can be delivered
through an LMA. The LMA does not protect against aspiration. Like an endotracheal tube, it frees up the anesthesiologist’s hands and allows surgical access to the
head and neck area without interference. While airway
obstruction due to laryngospasm is still a risk, the LMA
prevents upper airway obstruction from the tongue or
other soft tissues. The LMA also has a role to play in
the failed intubation setting particularly when mask
ventilation is difficult. The #3, #4 and #5 LMA are used
in adults. Many modifications have followed the origi-

Figure 5 Laryngeal mask in situ

Images courtesy of the LMA Group of Companies, 2012. Used with permission. Images modified by Karen Raymer and Brian Colborne.

nal “classic” LMA including a design that facilitates
blind endotracheal intubation through the LMA (Fastrach LMA™) and one that is specially designed for use
with positive pressure ventilation with or without muscle relaxation (Proseal LMA™).

• the surgery requires muscle relaxation (abdominal
surgery, neurosurgery).
• the surgery is of long duration such that respiratory
muscles would become fatigued under anesthesia.
• the surgery involves the thoracic cavity.

Endotracheal Intubation: There are 3 basic indications
for intubation:

In rare cases, an ETT may be required to improve oxygenation in patients with critical pulmonary disease
such as Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome (ARDS),
where 100% oxygen and positive end expiratory pressure (PEEP) may be needed.

1. To provide a patent airway. An endotracheal tube
(ETT) may be necessary to provide a patent airway
as a result of either patient or surgical factors (or
both). For example, an ETT is required to provide a
patent airway when surgery involves the oral cavity
(e.g. tonsillectomy, dental surgery). An ETT provides
a patent airway when the patient must be in the
prone position for spinal surgery. Airway pathology
such as tumour or trauma may compromise patency,
necessitating an ETT.

While intubation is most commonly performed orally,
in some settings nasotracheal intubation is preferable
such as during intra-oral surgery or when long-term intubation is required. Nasotracheal intubation may be
accomplished in a blind fashion (i.e. without performing laryngoscopy) in the emergency setting if the patient is breathing spontaneously.

2. To protect the airway. Many factors predispose a patient to aspiration. A cuffed endotracheal tube, although not 100% reliable, is the best way to protect
the airway of an anesthetized patient.

Nasotracheal intubation is contraindicated in patients
with coagulopathy, intranasal abnormalities, sinusitis,
extensive facial fractures or basal skull fractures.
While there are myriad devices and techniques used to
achieve intubation (oral or nasal), most often it is performed under direct vision using a laryngoscope to expose the glottis. This technique is called direct laryngoscopy. The patient should first be placed in the “sniffing position” (Figure 3) in order to align the oral, pha-

3. To facilitate positive pressure ventilation. Some surgical procedures, by their very nature, require that the
patient be mechanically ventilated which is most effectively and safely achieved via an ETT. Mechanical
ventilation is required when:


Movie 1.1 Intubation technique

laryngoscope is lifted to expose the vocal cords and
glottic opening. The ETT is inserted under direct vision
though the cords. A size 7.0 or 7.5 ETT is appropriate
for oral intubation in the adult female and a size 8.0 or
8.5 is appropriate in the male. A full size smaller tube is
used for nasal intubation.
Movie 1.1 demonstrates the important technique to use
when performing endotracheal intubation.
The view of the larynx on laryngoscopy varies greatly.
A scale represented by the “Cormack Lehane views”
allows anesthesiologists to grade and document the
view that was obtained on direct laryngoscopy. Grade 1
indicates that the entire vocal aperture was visualized;
grade 4 indicates that not even the epiglottis was
viewed. Figure 7 provides a realistic depiction of the
range of what one might see when performing laryngoscopy.
Movie 1.2 shows you the important anatomy to recognize on a routine intubation.

Video filmed and produced by Karen Raymer and Brian Colborne; Find
this video at www.understandinganesthesia.ca
ryngeal and laryngeal axes. The curved Macintosh
blade is most commonly used in adults. It is introduced
into the right side of the mouth and used to sweep the
tongue to the left (Figure 6).
The blade is advanced into the vallecula which is the
space between the base of the tongue and the epiglottis.
Keeping the wrist stiff to avoid levering the blade, the


Figure 6 View of upper airway on direct laryngoscopy

Movie 1.2 Airway anatomy seen on intubation

Footage filmed by Richard Kolesar, edited by Karen Raymer.
Find this video at www.understandinganesthesia.ca

Cormack and Lehane Scale

Figure 7 Cormack Lehane views on direct laryngoscopy

Grade 1

Grade 2

Grade 3

Grade 4

Figure created by and used with permission from Kanal Medlej,
M.D.; accessed from Resusroom.com

Original artwork by Linda Onorato, MD, FRCP(C); Digital mastery by Robert Barborini. Copyright Linda Onorato,
used with permission of Linda Onorato.

After intubation, correct placement of the ETT must be
confirmed and esophageal intubation ruled out. The
“gold standard” is direct visualization of the ETT situated between the vocal cords. The presence of a normal, stable end-tidal carbon dioxide (CO2) waveform
on the capnograph confirms proper placement except
in the cardiac arrest setting. Both sides of the chest and
the epigastrium are auscultated for air entry. Vapour
observed moving in and out of the ETT is supportive
but not confirmative of correct tracheal placement.

depth of anesthesia. Sore throat is the most common
complication that presents post-extubation and is selflimited. Airway edema, sub-glottic stenosis, vocal cord
paralysis, vocal cord granulomata and tracheomalacia
are some of the more serious consequences that can occur and are more common after a prolonged period of

If the ETT is advanced too far into the trachea, a right
mainstem intubation will occur. This is detected by noting the absence of air entry on the left as well as by observing that the ETT has been advanced too far. The appropriate distance of ETT insertion, measured at the
lips, is approximately 20 cm for an adult female and 22
cm for the adult male.
Complications may occur during laryngoscopy and intubation. Any of the upper airway structures may be
traumatized from the laryngoscope blade or from the
endotracheal tube itself. The most common complication is damage to teeth or dental prosthetics. It is imperative to perform laryngoscopy gently and not to persist with multiple attempts when difficulty is encountered. Hypertension, tachycardia, laryngospasm, raised
intracranial pressure and bronchospasm may occur if
airway manipulation is performed at an inadequate


introducers (commonly referred to as gum elastic
bougies), stylet.

Airway Devices and Adjuncts
After performing a history and physical examination
and understanding the nature of the planned procedure, the anesthesiologist decides on the anesthetic
technique. If a general anesthetic is chosen, the anesthesiologist also decides whether endotracheal intubation
is indicated or whether another airway device such as a
LMA could be used instead.

• Methods of achieving endotracheal intubation using
“indirect” visualization of the larynx: videolaryngoscope, (the Glidescope™, McGrath™); Bullard™ laryngoscope, fibreoptic bronchoscope.
• Methods of achieving endotracheal intubation in a
“blind” fashion (without visualization of the larynx):
blind nasal intubation, lighted stylet, retrograde intubation, Fastrach LMA™.

When endotracheal intubation is planned, the technique used to achieve it depends in large part on the
assessment of the patient’s airway. When intubation is
expected to be routine, direct laryngoscopy is the most
frequent approach. In settings where the airway management is not routine, then other techniques and adjuncts are used. Airway devices that can be used to
achieve an airway (either as a primary approach or as a
“rescue” method to use when direct laryngoscopy has
failed) are categorized below.
• Methods for securing the upper airway only. These
methods achieve what is sometimes termed a “noninvasive airway” and include the oral airway with
mask; the LMA; and the King Laryngeal Tube™.
• Adjuncts for increasing the likelihood of achieving
endotracheal intubation through direct laryngoscopy: alternate laryngoscope blades, endotracheal


niques (see section on adjuncts) or awakening the patient to proceed with an awake intubation.

The Difficult Airway
Airway mismanagement is a leading cause of anesthetic morbidity and mortality and accounts for close to
half of all serious complications. The best way to prevent complications of airway management is to be prepared. Anticipation of the difficult airway (or difficult
intubation) and formulation of a plan to manage it
when it occurs, saves lives.

Unanticipated difficult intubation, unable to ventilate
by mask: This is an emergency situation. One calls for
help and attempts to insert an LMA which is likely to
facilitate ventilation even when mask ventilation has
failed. If an airway is not achievable by non-surgical
means, then a surgical airway (either needle cricothyrotomy or tracheostomy) must not be delayed.

Anticipated difficult intubation: The use of an alternate anesthetic technique (regional or local) may be the
most practical approach. If a general anesthetic is chosen, then airway topicalization and awake intubation
(with fiberoptic bronchoscope) is the preferred technique. In pediatric patients, neither a regional technique nor an awake intubation is feasible. In this case,
induction of anesthesia with an inhaled agent such that
the patient retains spontaneous respiration is the safest
approach. Efforts are undertaken to secure the airway
once the child is anesthetized.

When a difficult airway is encountered, the anesthesiologist must respond quickly and decisively. As in
many clinical situations which occur infrequently but
are associated with high rates of morbidity and mortality, the management of the difficult airway is improved
by following well-developed algorithms. The American
Society of Anesthesiologists has published a “Difficult
Airway Algorithm” which is widely accepted as standard of care. The algorithm is described in a lengthy
document such that a full explanation is beyond the
scope of this manual. The algorithm, as well as other
experts’ interpretations, are readily available on the

Unanticipated difficult intubation, able to ventilate
by mask: In this situation, one calls for help, repositions the patient and reattempts laryngoscopy. The
guiding principle is to avoid multiple repeated attempts which can lead to airway trauma and edema resulting in the loss of the ability to ventilate the patient.
During the subsequent attempts at intubation, the anesthesiologist considers using alternate airway tech-



Fluid Management
In This Section

1. Fluid Requirements
2. Assessment of Fluid Status
3. Vascular Access
4. Types of Fluid

The goal of fluid management is the maintenance
or restoration of adequate organ perfusion and
tissue oxygenation. The ultimate consequence of
inadequate fluid management is hypovolemic

First 10 kilograms (i.e. 0-10 kg):!!

4 cc/kg/hr

Next 10 kilograms (i.e. 11-20 kg):!

2 cc/kg/hr

All remaining kilograms over 20 kg:! 1 cc/kg/hr
For example, a 60 kg woman fasting for 8 hours:

Fluid Requirements
Peri-operative fluid management must take into
account the pre-operative deficit, ongoing maintenance requirements and intra-operative losses
(blood loss, third space loss).


10 kg x 4 cc/kg/hr !

= 40 cc/hr


10 kg x 2 cc/kg/hr !

= 20 cc/hr


40 kg x 1 cc/kg/hr !

= 40 cc/hr!






= 100 cc/hr x 8 hr






= 800 cc

Pre-operative Deficit: The pre-operative fluid
deficit equals basal fluid requirement (hourly
maintenance x hours fasting) plus other losses
that may have occurred during the pre-operative

Therefore, the pre-operative deficit (excluding

Maintenance fluid requirements correlate best
with lean body mass and body surface area. To
calculate maintenance, use the “4/2/1 rule”:

other losses) is 800 cc.

“Other losses” (including fluid lost through
sweating, vomiting, diarrhea and nasogastric
drainage) are more difficult to estimate. In the
febrile patient, maintenance requirements are increased by 10% per degree Celsius elevation in
As a rule, half of the deficit should be corrected
prior to induction and the remainder replaced
intra-operatively. However, if the pre-operative
deficit is greater than 50% of the estimated blood


volume, then the surgery should be delayed, if possible, to allow for more complete resuscitation.

Figure 8 Assessment of intra-operative fluid status

Intra-operative losses: Blood loss is usually underestimated. It is assessed by visually inspecting blood in suction bottles, on the drapes and on the floor. Sponges
can be weighed (1 gram = 1 cc blood), subtracting the
known dry weight of the sponge. Third space loss refers to the loss of plasma fluid into the interstitial space
as a result of tissue trauma and can be estimated based
on the nature of the surgery:
• 2-5 cc/kg/hr for minimal surgical trauma (orthopedic surgery)
• 5-10 cc/kg/hr for moderate surgical trauma (bowel
• 10-15 cc/kg/hr for major surgical trauma (abdominal aortic aneurysm repair)These are all crude estimates of fluid requirements. Adequacy of replacement is best judged by the patient’s response to therapy. Urine output greater than 1.0 cc/kg/hr is a reassuring indicator of adequate organ perfusion. Hemodynamic stability, oxygenation, pH and central venous pressures are other indicators of volume status,
but may be affected by many other factors. Figure 8
depicts the holistic approach to assessing intraoperative blood loss.

This figure was published in “Anesthesia for Thoracic Surgery”, Jonathan Benumof, Copyright Elsevier (1987). Used
with permission of Elsevier.


Assessment of Fluid Status

Table 3 Classification of hemorrhagic shock in a 70 kg person

Fluid status is assessed by history, physical exam and
laboratory exam. Thorough history will reveal losses of
blood, urine, vomit, diarrhea and sweat. As well, the
patient is questioned regarding symptoms of hypovolemia, such as thirst and dizziness.
On physical exam, vital signs, including any orthostatic
changes in vital signs, are measured. A decrease in
pulse pressure and decreased urine output are two of
the most reliable early signs of hypovolemia. Poor capillary refill and cutaneous vasoconstriction indicate compromised tissue perfusion. Severely depleted patients
may present in shock (Table 3).


































Hemoglobin, sodium, urea and creatinine levels may
show the concentration effect which occurs in uncorrected dehydration. When blood loss occurs, hemoglobin and hematocrit levels remain unchanged until intravascular volume has been restored with non-blood containing solutions. Therefore, only after euvolemia has
been restored is the hemoglobin level a useful guide for
transfusion. Lactic acidosis is a late sign of impaired tissue perfusion.



>30 cc/hr 20-30 cc/hr <20 cc/hr




crystalloid plus colloid plus blood plus blood

cannula allows greater flow than a longer cannula of
equivalent bore.

Vascular Access
Peripheral venous access
Peripheral venous access is the quickest, simplest and
safest method of obtaining vascular access. The upper
limb is used most commonly, either at the hand or antecubital fossa (cephalic and basilic veins). The lower
limb can be used if necessary, the most successful site
here being the saphenous vein, located 1 cm anterior
and superior to the medial malleolus.

For example, a 16 gauge cannula will allow greater
flow (i.e. faster resuscitation) than a (smaller) 18 gauge
cannula. Likewise, a 14 gauge peripheral IV cannula
will allow greater flow than an equivalent caliber central line, which is, by necessity, significantly longer.
From a practical perspective, a 16 gauge cannula is the
smallest size which allows rapid administration of
blood products.

Flow through a tube is directly proportional to the pressure drop across the tube and inversely proportional to

Starting a peripheral intravenous line
There are several technical points that, when followed,
will increase your likelihood of success with “IV
starts”. These are itemized below and demonstrated in
the video, available for viewing on the website.

Flow ∝ pressure drop/resistance

1) Apply a tourniquet proximal to the site. Apply it
tightly enough to occlude venous flow, but not so
tightly as to impede arterial flow to the limb.

Resistance is directly proportional to length and inversely proportional to radius to the fourth power.

Resistance ∝ length/radius4

2) Choose an appropriate vein: one that is big enough
for the cannula you have chosen and for your fluid
administration needs. However, just because a vein
is big, doesn’t mean it is the best for the IV start.
Avoid veins that are tortuous as well as ones with obvious valves. In these cases, threading the cannula
will be difficult.

From these equations, we can understand how the anesthesiologist achieves rapid administration of fluids.
Pressure drop is achieved by using rapid infusers that
apply a squeeze to the fluid, usually with an air-filled
bladder. A cannula that is of a greater radius makes a
significant impact on flow; to a lesser extent, a shorter

3) Prep the area with alcohol.


4) Immobilize the vein by applying gentle traction to
the surrounding skin with your left hand. Avoid pulling too tightly on the skin, lest you flatten the vein

8) Thread the catheter using your index finger of your
right hand. Your thumb and third finger continue to
stabilize the needle in place (stationary). Your left
hand continues to stabilize the vein’s position. (This
part takes lots of practice!)

5) Hold the cannula between the thumb and third fingers of your right hand.

9) Once the catheter is fully threaded, then you can release your left hand which now can be used to release the tourniquet and apply proximal pressure at
the IV site.

6) Approach the vein with the IV cannula in your right
hand at an angle that is nearly parallel to the skin.
You want to travel within the lumen of the vein, not
go in one side and out the other. Another important
requirement is to ensure that the planned approach
allows the trajectory of the cannula to be identical to
the trajectory of the vein. (Once you get more confident with IV starts, you may chose to plan your
“puncture site” to be not immediately overlying the
vein itself, so that when the IV cannula is ultimately
removed, the overlying skin provides natural coverage to the hole in the vein, minimizing bleeding.)

10) Pull out your needle and attach the prepared IV
11) Secure your IV with appropriate dressing and carefully dispose of your sharp needle.
12) Congratulations!
Movie 1.3 Technique for peripheral IV start

7) Watch for the flashback. When you get it, do not
move your left hand. Just take a breath. Then slowly
advance both needle and catheter together within
the lumen of the vein, anywhere from 2-4 mm (more
with a larger IV cannula). This step ensures that the
tip of the catheter (not just the needle) is in the lumen of the vein. Be careful to observe the anatomy of
the vein to guide your direction of advancement.
This video was filmed by Victor Chu and edited by
Karen Raymer. Find this video at

Central venous access
Central venous access is indicated when peripheral venous access is inadequate for fluid resuscitation, or
when central pressure monitoring is required. The internal jugular vein is the most common site used intraoperatively. The external jugular is also useful, but can
be technically difficult in some patients due to the presence of valves. The subclavian site is associated with an
increased risk of pneumothorax, while the femoral site
is associated with an increased risk of infection, embolism and thrombosis. Multiorifaced, 6 c.m., 14 gauge
catheters are the most commonly used central lines.
Wide bore “introducers” (for example, the 8.5 French
Arrow CV Introducer®) are also commonly used for
central venous access.

Types of Fluids
Fluids can be divided into two broad categories: crystalloids and colloids. Crystalloids are solutions of simple
inorganic or organic salts and distribute to varying extents throughout the body water. Examples include
Ringer’s Lactate (R/L), 0.9% saline (N/S) and 5% dextrose in water (D5W). Sodium chloride, a common constituent of crystalloid solutions, distributes throughout
the entire extracellular space. Glucose distributes
throughout the entire body water (extracellular and intracellular spaces). Whatever the active solute, water,
the ubiquitous solvent, will move across membranes to
maintain osmotic equilibrium.
Colloids are suspensions of protein or other complex
organic particles. These particles cannot diffuse across
capillary membranes and so remain trapped within the
intravascular space. Examples of colloids are albumin
(5%, 25%), hydroxyethyl starches (Pentaspan ®, Voluven ® , red cell concentrates, platelets, and plasma.

There are many potential complications of central venous cannulation. They include arterial puncture, hemorrhage, pneumothorax, thoracic duct injury, neural injury, air embolism, infection, thrombosis, hydrothorax,
catheter misplacement and catheter or wire embolism.
The use of ultrasound guidance for central line insertion allows more accurate needle placement and avoidance of complications.

The partitioning throughout the body’s compartments
of some of the various types of fluids for administration is summarized in Table 4 and illustrated in the animated slides, Interactive 1.1.
Normal saline or Ringer’s lactate are the preferred crystalloids for intra-operative fluid administration and resuscitation, as they provide more intravascular volume


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